The New Orleans MP58 also comes with a standard USB cable for the playback of digital audio files from flash drives and other generic USB storage devices. Similar to disc-based tracks, the files from a USB device can be browsed on the multiline display using the four-way keypad. While thumbdrives play without any trouble, the situation is different for iPods that are connected via their proprietary USB cable. During our testing, with an iPod connected and USB selected as the source, tracks from the iPod did begin to play, but instead of showing the track name, the stereo's display showed a bizarre four-letter word phrase for each track and rather than reading the iPod's album information, the stereo listed albums as number folders. Somewhat disappointingly, the New Orleans MP58 does not feature a front-mounted auxiliary input jack, so those who want to play music from an iPod via the stereo will have to invest in Blaupunkt's add-on iPod control module.
For all audio output, the New Orleans MP58 has a number of advanced sound-tweaking features. In addition to the regular EQ levels--accessed by the Audio button--the system has an "Enhanced" menu, which gives drivers the capability to select one of three preset EQ settings or to adjust the characteristics of each of the bass, middle, and treble levels. Users can set the frequency and quality of bass, the gain, frequency and quality of middle, and the frequency of treble.
With a "Red Book" CD playing, sound quality is very good, with bright highs and a rich midrange. Bass output is adequate, although audiophiles will want to make use of the facility for an external sub, which can be adjusted for gain and frequency using the head unit controls. (The X-Bass button, which is designed to boost bass output at low volumes, had very little effect in our experience, even when set to maximum gain.) The system also comes with four-channel preouts for those wanting to connect external amplifiers.
The Blaupunkt New Orleans MP58 is a capable car stereo with support for a range of digital audio formats, a good music selection interface, and a stylish faceplate design. Its lack of iPod compatibility lets it down, though. However, with an MRSP of $260, the system is pricey relative to the similarly equipped competition, and users may find themselves considering the Pioneer DEH-P6000UB or the considerably cheaper (and iPod compatible) Sony CDX-GT610UI.